- Withdrawal means that for now, Britain gets to keep one of its most valuable companies as it moves closer to Brexit.
- Scrapped plan seen as victory for shareholders, who had opposed the move.
- Unilever decided to collapse its Anglo-Dutch structure after a business review sparked by last year’s failed $US143 billion takeover approach by Kraft-Heinz.
Unilever – the maker of Dove soap and Ben & Jerry’s ice cream – has abandoned plans to move its corporate headquarters from London to Rotterdam in the face of growing opposition from UK investors, Reuters reported. The withdrawal means that for now, Britain gets to keep one of its most valuable companies as it moves closer to Brexit.
It’s also seen as a victory for UK shareholders, who had spoken out against the move, which would have kicked the company out of the benchmark FTSE 100 index. Shareholders representing about 12% of the shares had publicly opposed the move.
“The board will now consider its next steps and will continue to engage with our shareholders,” Chairman Marijn Dekkers said, according to Reuters. He added that the company will proceed with the plan to cancel its Dutch preference shares.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan tweeted that he supported the move.
“It’s great news that Unilever has chosen to keep its HQ in London & abandoned plans to move it to Rotterdam. Despite the Govt’s appalling mishandling of the Brexit negotiations, the capital will always be one of the best cities in the world to do business,” he said.
Their main practical concerns were around the forced selling of their shares with no premium, uncertainty around the future tax treatment of Dutch dividends and a perception that the move was in part aimed at securing the greater takeover protections under Dutch law.
Unilever decided to collapse its Anglo-Dutch structure after a business review sparked by last year’s failed $US143 billion takeover approach by Kraft-Heinz. But Unilever said it recognised that the proposal had not received support from a significant group of shareholders and therefore it considers it appropriate to withdraw.
Earlier this week, influential proxy advisory firm PIRC recommended shareholders vote against the move.
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